Last Sunday, we all shared in a story of life change that displays the heart of why Mercy Hill Church desires to launch campuses throughout the Triad. The story of Emmanuel Malette is one of many that exemplifies how the gospel of Christ gives people a deeper desire to worship God, a greater understanding of community, and a longing for others to experience relationship with Jesus as Lord of their life. Every time we hear or personally experience one of these stories, we should thank God with rejoicing and beg for more based on what He is able and willing to do in and through His people.
I recall the first time I met Emmanuel. It was at our Regional campus during our “King and Cross” sermon series in November 2015. Immediately following the sermon, he was in a mob of college students comprised of some who were visiting and others that are covenant members who happened to introduce him to Mercy Hill. He and I had a brief conversation about the content of the sermon and what he planned to do when he graduated from UNCG in the upcoming spring semester.
Emmanuel seemed to me to be genuinely appreciative of the experience of fellowship among the body of Christ at Mercy Hill and especially from the UNCG students who were members. Following that meeting, I would recall seeing him from time to time but not consistently, and I wasn’t sure why. Eventually, Emmanuel shared with me and others that he was faced with a situation that was stifling the building of relationships through our Sunday gatherings and regular Christian community. This crippling situation led him to forego the weekly worship gatherings at times for the purpose of doing other things on Sunday. The potential situation that was thwarting his fellowship with other believers was a lack of transportation.
There is an emphasis on potential because Emmanuel’s lack of a car did not only serve to prevent him from attending the weekly gatherings on a consistent basis. His lack of a car also served as his basis for telling others that would have likely given him a ride on request why he decided not to attend the Sunday gathering more consistently. This may seem minor to some, but I have realized that this tendency to find a reason not to fellowship with other believers is present in the heart of every person.
Personally, I strongly believe that Emmanuel’s willingness to share this tendency and his personal conviction to repent of it through fellowship with others is evidence of the grace of God. This evidence of God’s grace serves to show how God is able and willing to use his people to lead others to greater faith and a life of repentance. Our consideration of this tendency and how God intends to use us to respond to it is worthy of our attention for a few moments. I will present a question that will help us to consider this. How many people do you know in the Triad that have the tendency to find reason(s) not to fellowship with other believers?
As I ask myself that question, at least ten people I know come to my mind. Some are neighbors. Some are former co-workers. Some are parents. Some are married. Some are single. Some are widowed. Some are divorced. Some were recently released from jail. Some are homeless. Some are care-takers. Some are in Greensboro. Some are in Winston-Salem. Some are in High Point. Some are in Whitsett. My point here is that there are many who are lacking consistent fellowship with other believers for many different reasons. Yet, as we saw in Emmanuel’s story, God is able and willing to eliminate some of these reasons by sending his people to launch campuses throughout the Triad. Emmanuel was one of the first persons to be baptized at our Clifton Road campus this past September. I doubt that when he originally decided to live on Clifton Road that he could foresee that.
As we head into the home stretch of Generous December, let us pray for others that may have reason to forego gathering with the fellowship of other believers. Let us consider how God may have us sacrifice to bring about a life-changing experience that others could not possibly foresee. Let us hope that God would pour out His grace in a manner that would increase His praise and the building up of His church through the launching of future Mercy Hill campuses.
-Gary Rivers (Associate Campus Pastor)